Barges have long played a large part in the daily life of Raquette Lake. In 1901 automobiles were the new form of recreation and many visitors to Raquette Lake brought along their vehicles, entering the lake from near Long Lake.
As Route 28 was not yet constructed, William West Durant started up a car ferry from the Forked Lake Carry at the north end of the lake, eight and a half miles across the lake to the village. Soon Durant put the small double-decker Lillian into service as a towboat for the car floats.
Much of the shoreline can still only be accessed by water. The Raquette Lake Boys Club, island camps and new cottages at the mouth of the Marion River all depend upon barges for large deliveries of furniture, groceries and propane gas.
When my parents retired in 1975 all their belongings from the rectory in Albany were picked up in the village by barge and taken across to St. Hubert’s. When we first came to Raquette Lake in 1959 old-timers related how they watched the old upright piano go cross to the Island decades earlier. One of the workmen sat at the keyboard and played all the way across the lake!
At the turn of the last century the Raquette Lake Railway would connect to a NY Central car from New York City, loaded with supplies or coal for Blue Mountain Lake. The boxcar would be moved to the tracks in front of the Raquette Lake House that connected to tracks on the waiting barge. Then the Steamer Killoquah guided the barge across the lake to the Marion River Carry Railroad. And the little engine pushed the freight car the 7/8 of a mile over the Carry to another barge waiting on the Utowana side.
According to the locals there is a freight car on the bottom of Blue Mountain Lake where it slipped off the barge. In the winter the tracks in front of the Raquette Lake House were used to fill a box car with ice from the lake for all the stops along the way – Clearwater and Fulton Chain – to New York City.